The relatively common neurological complication in diabetic patients occurs more frequently in patients with poor blood sugar control. The disease is rarely fatal but is the leading cause of amputation in diabetic patients. Therefore, patients should be very wary of this complication.
Until now, the treatment of neurological complications due to diabetes is still difficult, so prevention is extremely important.
1. What are neurological complications of Diabetes?
Neuropathy is damage or dysfunction of one or more nerves that typically results in numbness, tingling, muscle weakness and pain in the affected area. Diabetic neuropathy is damage that occurs on the nerves due to high blood sugar level in long time. All nerve fibers throughout the body are at risk of being affected. However, the most conspicuous manifestations are usually in the nerves of the upper and lower extremities (peripheral neurological complications are more common now). (Diabetic neuropathy most often damages nerves in your legs, hands and feet but other parts of your body can be affected too).
Diabetic neuropathy is usually divided into two main groups, corresponding to the symptomatic manifestations:
Peripheral nerve complications: Affecting the nerves in the body periphery such as nerves in the arms, legs, cranial nerves. Patients with limbs numbness and needles which are very influencing on the quality of their daily life, especially sleep.
Autonomic nervous system complications: Affecting the nervous system beyond the control of active consciousness, the function of controlling the activities of internal organs such as the stomach, intestines, cardiovascular system, especially the urinary system (manifesting urinary incontinence).
Diabetic neuropathy is a serious diabetes complication that may affect as many as 50% of people with diabetes. But you can often prevent diabetic neuropathy or slow its progress with consistent blood sugar management and a healthy lifestyle.
2. What causes diabetic neuropathy?
Damage to the nerves and blood vessels that feed the nerves is a key factor in this type of diabetes complication. If blood sugar levels are controlled not well for a long time, the environment caused by high blood glucose damages the nerve sheath, reducing nerve conduction velocity. In parallel, the small blood vessels that feed the nerves also suffer from complications of diabetes. They impair the function of supplying oxygen and nutrients to the nerves, and in the long term, the nerve fibers also wear down.
In addition, there are many other theories that also contribute to nerve damage in patients with diabetes such as inflammation in the nerve due to increased autoimmune responses in the diabetic body, due to genetic factors, weak smoking factors, alcoholism …
Many observations on a large number of patients have noted that the longer the diabetes duration, especially when the blood glucose does not reach the target, the greater the risk of neuropathy. The group of people with the disease from 25 years or more showed a very high rate of neurological complications. At the same time, chronic kidney disease is also one of the most common complications of diabetes. At that time, the kidney function is impaired, many cases require kidney replacement therapy because toxins, increased metabolic products in the blood can cause further nerve damage.
3. How do neurological complications of diabetics manifest?
Symptoms of diabetic neuropathy are diverse, depending on the organ damaged. Often the symptoms are also very faint, so the patient may not be interested until the doctor has found it or several damage has happend.
The manifestations of the neuropathy caused by diabetes are divided into the affected nerve group as follows:
3.1. Peripheral nerve complications
This is the most common symptom, and the feet on both sides are the first symptom. After that, the symptoms will gradually spread to the lower legs or appear more in the hands. Symptoms are usually both sides of the extremities. Patients often feel:
- Numbness, decreased awareness of pain, feeling hot and cold, especially in the feet. Patients often drop sandals, trample on sharp objects, and get injured without even knowing it.
- A sharp pain, often increasing at night.
- Pain when walking.
- Sometimes the patient has symptoms: even with a light touch, the patient feels a lot of pain.
- Muscle weakness and difficulty walking.
- Foot ulcers, infection, foot deformity, bone and joint pain when the disease has progressed.
3.2. Complications of autonomic nerves
Since autonomic nerves are the systems that control many different organs in the body, symptoms of the disease will vary depending on the organ damaged. Detail:
- The eye: the pupil loses reflection to light, darkness, or glare.
- Gastrointestinal system:
Stomach contraction slows down, so patients often feel bloated after eating; a feeling of choking, difficulty swallowing, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite; constipation or diarrhea, especially nocturnal or constipation mixed with diarrhea.
- Cardiovascular system:
Fast heart rate at rest, postural hypotension (when changing positions from lying to sitting or standing suddenly, patients feel dizzy, sometimes fainting due to low blood pressure). At the same time, the patient loses the sense of alarm when hypoglycemia such as feeling hungry, sweating, afraid, heart palpitations …; therefore, if there is no timely treatment (eg eating, drinking sugar water), the patient can quickly become in a coma.
- Urinary system, genitourinary system:
Astagnation of urine in the bladder (also called nerve bladder) for a long time leads to urinary tract infection. Patients may also urinate repeatedly, making it difficult to urinate. Erectile dysfunction in men, decreased pleasure in women, vaginal dryness.
- Skin: increased or decreased sweating, temperature regulation disorder, abnormal hot and cold.
4. Treatment and prevention of neurological complications caused by diabetes
Currently, there is still no cure for diabetic neuropathy and its neurological complications completely. Accordingly, the main treatment is good blood glucose control to help slow disease progression. In addition, if the symptoms are too uncomfortable and affect the quality of life, the patient is indicated to use nerve pain relievers as well as symptomatic treatment, functional rehabilitation.
The most effective prevention of peripheral neuropathy in diabetes is to actively control blood glucose, and to eat and exercise moderately. The foot is an organ that needs proper care: self-examination of the wound if there is a daily, always keep the feet clean and dry, not wearing tight shoes or bare feet, using files instead of cutting nails, …
For normal people, it is necessary to have periodic health examinations and general tests to help detect and treat diabetes early, prevent leading to neurological complications in particular and other complications of diabetes. general cardiovascular events.
Summary: Neurological complication is a common complication in diabetic patients and manifests itself in many different organs. Neurological complications, once occurring, will change diabetetes, and are an important cause of disability, reducing the quality of life of the patient. Treatment of neurological complications is often ineffective, so it is necessary to apply early and proactive preventive measures, the most important thing is to control blood sugar well.